One of the things we’ve both been waiting to do in Japan is make it up north for Hokkaido’s snow festival. This year we made it! We started out really, really early one morning with a startlingly perky Pokemon flight. (Still falls far short of Tara’s epic Hello Kitty flight to Taipei, though!)
A relatively short flight later we were bundled up, sorted into buses, and trekking out across the snowlands to the Lake Shikotsu ice festival–a sort of chilly appetizer to the snow festival in Sapporo.
Late Shikotsu is the second deepest lake in Japan, one of a few lakes caused by volcanoes nearby emptying out after eruptions. Apparently this makes it more ice-resistant than other lakes but we were warned it can still freeze over and can be bone-chillingly cold.
Fortunately for me and my relatively low tolerance for cold– it was a beautiful day for us, with no icy winds pouring in off the lake.
One of the ice-hallways had lit exhibits of frozen local fish. Slightly creepy, but some beautiful scales.
But our hands-down favorite was a series of rooms designed like a forest. The walls and ceilings were covered in freshly iced pine boughs that still smelled fantastic. You can’t quite tell in the picture but the trees were also coated in a few centimeters of glistening ice all around. It was really a sight.
Thoroughly chilled, we broke for a quick warming snack and ventured into the little gift shop, where we got a quick lesson in snowball etiquette.
And then a brief taste of the snow sculptures awaiting us in Sapporo.